While Frank Brown helped the Iroquois Nationals play for an FIL World Championship medal, the National Lacrosse League’s expansion draft decided his professional indoor lacrosse future.
Brown, who returned with his teammates from Netanya, Israel, with a bronze medal, will play for the new Philadelphia Wings franchise next winter after they selected him in the fifth round of the expansion draft July 16. Brown started his rookie season in 2017-18 with the Georgia Swarm, then joined the Rochester Knighthawks after being cut and helped them reach the NLL Cup final, playing defenseman throughout the playoffs.
But the Knighthawks didn’t include Brown, a Salamanca native and graduate of Silver Creek High School and Hobart College, on their list of 11 protected players from the expansion draft, when the Wings and San Diego Seals added NLL veteran players to their new rosters.
“It was something that I was aware of going into and something that I was actually looking forward to, to be honest with you,” Brown said of the expansion draft, a week later after returning from Israel. “I had a really good stretch there in playoff time and showed what I could do, I had the ability to show what I could do on that stage and I think I took pretty good advantage of it. So when Rochester decided not to protect me, a lot of people estimated that I would get picked up, so it was something that I really was keeping an eye on, for sure.”
The Wings have a long history in the NLL despite their expansion status. The Philadelphia Wings played in the original National Lacrosse League in 1974 and ‘75, then as a founding member in 1987 (then the Eagle Bro Box Lacrosse League) until relocating in 2014 to become the New England Black Wolves. Now, the Wings return as a new franchise with the same name under Comcast Spectacor, which also owns the NHL’s Flyers.
Brown said he’s excited to play for Philadelphia’s passionate fans as pro lacrosse returns to the city.
“The fanbase in Philadelphia was one of the biggest before they decided to relocate initially,” he said. “And I can tell already from some of the social media interactions and kind of the publicity behind the Wings already that the fanbase is going to be there. I'm excited to be a part of it, especially with the Flyers owning it, it's going to be great.”
The Iroquois Nationals include players from several Haudenosaunee nations. Brown played for the first time with the Iroquois men’s national lacrosse team after playing for the U19 squad in 2012.
“It's every young lacrosse player's dream to play for the Iroquois Nationals, to don those colors and wear a helmet bearing that eagle,” Brown said. “So it was quite an honor. To put it simply, I obviously went over there with the intentions of bringing back a gold, but just the experience itself, the example I'm setting by being able to go over there and represent the Seneca Nation among the Haudenosaunee tribes was just an honor.”
The Nationals could not participate in the 2010 World Championship as the United Kingdom did not accept their Haudenosaunee passports. Another passport issue held up the 2018 team for 48 hours in Canada before finally clearing customs in Israel on the day the tournament started. Although far from ideal, Brown thought the delay helped the Nationals bond as a team.
“I myself was not too optimistic,” Brown said of the passport issue. “Obviously they had the issue in 2010 where they had to miss the games altogether. The two-day delay was quite a surprise to me. It was good for some team bonding, though.
“The two days that we spent waiting around, we actually went back towards the Six Nations reserve and a few of us got to play in one of our Senior A-ball games. The whole team went to a paperweight game there, showed their support there, got pictures, got recognized at halftime and then the whole team was able to come to our game. It was like four or five of us on the team that play for the Chiefs in Senior A ball, so they were able to go to that game. It was good team bonding time. But some big-name people put in some calls and helped us out and we were able to get over there.”
Brown, who called his role with the Nationals “quite the Swiss army knife,” played several positions in the midfield throughout the tournament but got a chance at playing attack in the bronze medal game on Friday, scoring two goals with two assists in a 14-12 victory over Australia.
In total, the Nationals went 5-3 in Israel, losing only to the gold medal finalists United States and Canada in preliminary play, then again to Canada, 15-4, in the semifinals.
After the 2014 team won bronze in Denver for the Iroquois’ first medal, Brown admits the 2018 Nationals hoped to compete for gold this time.
“We're certainly happy we didn't come home empty-handed, that's for sure,” his said. “In the history of the Iroquois Nationals men's team, that was the second time only that we brought home a medal so obviously it's quite an accomplishment for us.
“(We’re) in the right direction for sure, but when you consider the amount of talent in this group that went to Israel, it's kind of disappointing. We would have liked to definitely been in that gold medal game, but in the semis there when we played Canada, I don't think we showed up, played the way that we should have and could have.”
Brown’s summer of lacrosse continues with the Six Nations Chiefs in Senior A ball, and with the Ohio Machines of the Major League Lacrosse.
(Salamanca Press sports editor Sam Wilson may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)